Letter: Maternity provision

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Maternity Alliance applauds the launch of the Employers for Childcare Campaign. As the new forum points out, lack of childcare provision 'means that large sums of money are wasted on training employees who are unable to continue their careers when they have children' ('Employers launch campaign for better child care', 2 June). It calls for the Government to take the lead in developing a national strategy on childcare services.

Good child care begins with maternity leave. Today the Government has an opportunity to provide all women with an adequate period of maternity leave, and all employers with a level playing field on which to build contractual provision. Regrettably, the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Bill, which is about to receive its last consideration in the Commons, provides only 14 weeks' leave. Despite representations from employers, welfare organisations, trades unions and women's groups, that a statutory minimum of 18 weeks' leave would be preferable for everyone, the Government has refused to budge.

Yet, like child care, good maternity provision makes business sense. It enables companies to maximise their potential by retaining the skills of all their workforce. The Government should take the lead and provide a realistic statutory minimum.

Yours sincerely,

CHRISTINE GOWDRIDGE

Director

The Maternity Alliance

London, WC1

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